Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Catching up, what a wonderful feeling when it’s story acceptances!  This came in after I’d written yesterday’s post (and that for a late Thursday night sale itself!), from Editor-in-Chief Patrick C. Harrison III:  Congratulations! We at Death’s Head Press have chosen to publish your short story, “Catskinner Sweet and the Twirling Teacups of Deadwood City,” in our anthology, BREAKING BIZARRO.  Please look over the attached contract (don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions) and email a signed copy back to us within the next few weeks.

The story, a reprint originally published in the March 2001 edition of NUKETOWN, to quote myself in my cover letter when I sent it in is written stylistically as a tall tale, yet is still an absurd story of the Olde West, and of how a failed alien invasion, an ace muleskinner who also could herd cats, a failed tree planting, and green-glowing mice turned a dying town into a city as up to date as St. Louis.  That and the invention of a better mouse trap and a warehouse full of dried navy beans, which all also combine to serve young love — although at worst with a mildly implied PG rating.  This one, also, is a bit longer than yesterday’s “Frogs’ Hair,” which actually is about five words shorter than my self-quoted description above.

And so today, Saturday, back went the contract, with more to be reported here as it becomes known.

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By any other name. . .  On the contract the book is called BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP FOR COGNITIVE RUMINATIONS; on at least one set of guidelines, THE FAR EDGE OF NORMAL; on another BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP FOR THE SOUL.  The description:  What?  You were expecting it to be a NORMAL book filled with NORMAL stories?  Nope. Silliness and weirdness will abound.  All I ask is that submissions be happy and silly and hopeful.  Not dark or froggie1scary or disturbing.  Well, maybe a little disturbing.  And one more thing, that the cut-off for length was 125 words.  So, as it happened, I had such a story, “As Fine as Frogs’ Hair,” a tale of fairyland witches and magic.  And also beauticians.

So late last night, possibly while I was still at the movies (see post just below), came the reply from Editor/Publisher Jaleta Clegg:  I would like to publish “As Fine as Frogs’ Hair” in the collection.  Attached is a contract.  Please fill it out and send it back to me as a doc attachment.  If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.  And that is that.  “As Fine as Frogs’ Hair” was originally published in MISCELLANEA:  A TRANSDIMENSIONAL LIBRARY (Eggplant Literary Productions, November 14 2013) and is exactly 75 words long, but more to the point it is silly and weird.  And maybe only a little disturbing.

As the Indiana University Cinema docent put it, this “Caturday” afternoon feature was to “celebrate the joy of the internet cat video.”  Also noted, of what might be (sort of) the feature’s sponsor, “[o]ne of the internet’s most famous felines, Lil Bub, lives right here in Bloomington” (Lil Bub, however, would be unable to attend herself).  More formally put by the IU Cinema’s printed blurb:  CatVideoFest is a compilation reel of the latest and best cat videos culled from countless hours of unique submissions and sourced animations, music videos, and, of course, classic Internet powerhouses.  CatVideoFest is a joyous communal experience, only available in theaters, and is committed to raising awareness and money for cats in need around the world.  A percentage of the proceeds from this event will directly support Lil BUB’s Big FUND for the ASPCA, which benefits special needs pets nationwide.

And so it was for a good cause too, CatVideoFest being an annual compilation (quoting the Fest’s own website) . . . raising awareness and money for cats in need around the world.  A percentage of the proceeds from each event go to local animal shelters and/or animal welfare organizations.  Thus the idea that local presenters can aim the funding to whatever they feel is the most pressing need.  The 70-minute-reel of cat videos is family-friendly and can be enjoyed by anyone.  The wide demographic appeal allows for it to be shown in virtually any type of setting — from museums to theaters to outdoor festivals and beyond.  This flexibility means there are almost no limits to where CatVideoFest can go!

Thus about an hour and a half of weekend afternoon fun (my favorite was the piece about the man who rescued a kitten on the highway, but when he got home could no longer find it in his car — it had to be there, but was also not there!  With the help of a mechanic it was ultimately retrieved from inside the automobile’s engine compartment, and thusly adopted is now named “Schrodinger”), and also a chance to be a do-gooder, which isn’t bad.  But also while doing a little research before the movie, I discovered (courtesy of Le Grande Cinema) that CatVideoFest is founded by filmmaker Will Braden, creator of YouTube sensation Henri, le Chat Noir, and curator of the popular Internet Cat Video Festival.

I know le chat Henri (see picture above, a mostly black cat much like Triana* but not quite that black), which is to say I’m acquainted with some of his own videos, one of which — the seventh, having to do with an incompetent cat-sitter while his real “caretakers” were on a vacation — was also a part of this year’s 2019 CatFest, and I recommend him to those who might not be.  One can find links in the footnotes in his Wikipedia entry or, for starters, Henri having retired from public life in 2018, one can find his final (eleventh), farewell video “Oh, revoir” by pressing here.

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*The Goth Cat Triana was also unable to attend, but received a petting (plus her supper) when I got home.  One wonders though, should they ever meet, how she, a Goth, would get along with the older, Sartrean existentialist Henri.

Yes, let us recall PLANET SCUMM and its Christmastide presentation of “Holly Jolly” (see March 17 2019; December 27, 14 2018, et al.), the tale of a pointy-eared alien conqueror, or at least he hoped to be.  For after all, disguised as a department store Santa’s assistant elf, what could possibly go wrong?  Well, you can find out by buying the Winter 2018 issue of PLANET SCUMM, if you haven’t already, and now you can hear it for yourself too in a just-released audio edition.

Or, to quote from the reindeer’s mouth as it were:  Planet Scumm is a quarterly science-fiction magazine, published by Spark & Fizz Books.  It is produced by Tyler Burdwood, Sean Clancy, Eric Loucks, Samuel Rheaume and Alyssa Alarcón Santo.  [It] was born out of reverence for the bizarre science fiction magazines of the 1930s, 1950s, and 1960s.  We cherish the genre as an open forum for philosophy, anxieties, thought experiments and thoughtless experiments.

Also, according to the announcement, the issue is out as well in a new paperback book edition.  For either form, pb or audio, find more out by pressing here.

Well, in its category anyway, and according to co-editor Bob Brown of B Cubed Press there’s a sort of funny story about it.  In his own words:  Alternative Theologies just hit the #1 Best Seller in its category.  (Amazon anyway)

This came about when someone raided my booth at MisCon and took about 15 copies.

I kind of wrote it off and posted about it.

That post went a bit viral and sales responded.

The book’s full title is ALTERNATIVE THEOLOGIES:  PARABLES FOR A MODERN WORLD and my own part in it is rather modest, a humorous poem called “Tit for Tat” (cf. August 14, August 11, et al.) — and a reprint at that, originally published in GHOSTS:  REVENGE (James Ward Kirk Publications, 2015).  But there’s lots of other stuff in there with it and reviews I’ve seen are extremely positive so, if you haven’t looked into ALTERNATIVE THEOLOGIES yet yourself, more information can be found by pressing here.

Or to quote from the start of the Amazon blurb:  Henry Frederic Amiel stated that “Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us.  Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”  And while this book explores theology and beliefs, it is written to be kind as well as thoughtful, and at times funny.  It will give you belly laughs, but it will also give understanding of the notion of believing. It will remind you that no matter what you believe, we make this journey together.

Just saying. . . .

The play is part of the Indiana University Arts and Humanities Council celebration, Granfalloon:  A Kurt Vonnegut Convergence (see also below, May 11 2018), “Vonnegut On Stage: War, Technology and Unintended Consequences” presented this afternoon and tomorrow evening by Cardinal Stage at the downtown Bloomington John Waldron Arts Center Auditorium.  Cardinal Stage presents an evening of dramatic adaptations of Kurt Vonnegut’s short stories from WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE in partnership with the 2019 Granfalloon Festival presented by the IU Arts & Humanities Council.  Staged readings will include “Epicac” (adapted by Vonnegut) and “Report on the Barnhouse Effect” (adapted by Claris A. Ross for NBC radio), which speak to Vonnegut’s wariness of the military industrial complex and the unintended consequences of technological advancement.  A second performance will be tomorrow (Saturday) night at 7 p.m., today’s being a 3 p.m. matinee more convenient, as it happens, for me to get to as well as (Friday being a work day) more likely to have tickets still available when I showed up at the door.

The readings themselves were presented in radio theatre format, the first in fact, according to the blurb above, adapted by the author himself, with performers in chairs stepping up to the mike to speak their parts accompanied by a variety of audio special effects.  I thought it worked well.  The first, “Epicac,” was about a newly invented supercomputer of special interest to the Navy for use in battles, but which, due to a lovesick programmer, became more interested in poetry and love itself, transferring its own affection to the programmer’s fiancee.  Then the second, “Report on the Barnhouse Effect,” from Vonnegut’s first published short story, has to do with a civilian professor developing what we might now call teleportation — an ability to manipulate solid objects with his mind — and his subsequent revolt against the military’s interest in using this in warfare, having become as he puts it himself the world’s “first weapon with a conscience.”

I had reread “Barnhouse Effect” fairly recently and, as I remember it, think the adaption did a good job of presenting the essence of the story.  In any event, I’ve dug out my old copy of WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE and plan to take another look at both stories tonight.

This afternoon brought the Bloomington Writers Guild’s last “First Sunday Prose and Open Mic” readings at Bears Place (cf. April 8, et al.) for spring, the series going on summer hiatus for June and July.  There were two featured readers:  novelist and essayist Dennis McCarty, whose latest book, THOUGHTS FROM A GENTLE ATHEIST, is expected to be available on Amazon later this month, read parts of three chapters from his REFLECTIONS:  ON TIME, CULTURE, AND SPIRITS IN AMERICA about Idaho’s Minidoka War Relocation Center and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II; and mystery novelist and DJ/host of local WFHB radio’s weekly show “All That Jazz” Ray Zdonek read two short chapters from DIANA OF THE DUNES, the latest in his multi-volume Lee Kosac detective series.  Then, following a short break, there were five walk-on readers of which I was first with a holdover from last month, “Che,” originally published in the Summer 2006 BLEEDING QUILL, a flash fiction satire about the George W. Bush administration and how it defeated a terrorist Cuban zombie invasion of the moon.

This just struck me as interesting as an idea for future stories or, rather, an element of future stories:  what attractions might future amusement parks offer that differ from today’s?  Well as it happens, short film maker Till Nowak created such an idea, based on a fictional scientific experiment concerning the effects of thrill rides on human learning, and part of which apparently has been taken by some people to be true.  Hence it migrated to SNOPES.COM with a need for debunking in “Does This Video Show an Extreme Theme Park Thrill Ride?”

To quote the SNOPES article, of Nowak’s film:  [t]he film is narrated by “Dr. Nick Laslowicz” (as portrayed by Leslie Barany), who has picked up on a project to “study the effects of kindergarten rides on the learning curve of 4-year-old children” that has been extended to “building larger, stronger devices to examine the effects also on adults.”

Dr. Laslowicz leads the viewing audience through a succession of increasingly bizarre amusement rides conceived and created to further his study — including one lasting a whopping 14 hours on which, the researcher laments, “some people fell asleep and missed their stops and had another 14 hours, and you can imagine the problems that entailed.”

And the fun thing is, not only is the video in question shown, but the entire 6 minute and 35 second film can be seen for as well by pressing here, then scrolling down to the end of the SNOPES piece and THE CENTRIFUGE BRAIN PROJECT:  A SHORT FILM.  The original video comes about a minute before the end of the film.

Now the next question to ask: in that most of these still rely on gravity for their effects, what modifications can we make for amusement park rides for use in space?

Hark we back from Saint Patrick’s Day to Christmas last year and the publication of “Holly Jolly” in PLANET SCUMM (see December 27, 14, et al.), the saga of an elf invasion of Earth gone bad.  This was in issue 6, the “O Scumm All Ye Faithful” edition dated for December 2018.  But all is not over, it seems, for issue 6.  Word has come from editor Tyler Berd that an audio version has just been edited and, moreover, a new print edition in perfect-bound paperback form with “a less Christmasy cover” is in the worls, both planned to be released this summer.  More to be announced here as it becomes known.

After a hectic afternoon including finalizing the PDF for A JAMES DORR SAMPLER (see February 21, below), yesterday evening saw me arriving a half hour late for the “Players Pub Second Thursday Spoken Word Series” (see December 15, et al.), co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild but on the third, not the second Thursday and not at Players Pub this month but, temporarily, ThBurroughse Blockhouse, another downtown Bloomington bar.  So not to worry, due to a problem involving the band “The Paperback Riot” the program started late as well with featured readers Ian Uriel Girdley and Tony Brewer reading poetry and Joan Hawkins with an elaborate reading of an imagined dialogue between William S. Burroughs and his wife, “William and Joan in the Bardo.”  This was followed immediately by four open mike readings, with the musical part just after, in which I was last with a reprise of my January “First Sundays Prose” (cf. January 6) reading of my building walls satire-with-zombies “Steel Slats.”

Next month the series will move again, this time to a new night, Wednesday, and a newer location at the university area pub Bear’s Place.  More as it develops.




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